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The Battle for the Persian Gulf
What's in a name?
Kourosh Ziabari (Persiangul)     Print Article 
Published 2008-09-11 09:33 (KST)   
Despite long-standing tradition, there's a fight among the international community over the name of the Persian Gulf. That's the body of water that separates Iran from the Arabian Peninsula.

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Among the thousands of geographical names around the world, why are mischievous actions being taken to change the name of the Persian Gulf? Why not target the Gulf of Mexico? Why is the Persian Gulf region so important that Arab states and Israel agreed to lobby for a change of name? What political purposes will it serve? Who is backing this endeavor?

We know well that the West is increasing the pressure on Iran over its nuclear program. We know, too, that three UN members have never signed the Nonproliferation Treaty and that they currently have nuclear arsenals. No serious steps are being taken to disarm those states or to stop them from pursuing weapons of mass destruction.

Some Iranian journalists and cultural activists believe that the effort to change the name of the Persian Gulf is taking place with the goal of enfeebling the will of the Iranian nation about the nuclear program even though the West knows that Iran is facing an electricity shortage.

When the National Geographic added "Arabian Gulf" in parentheses after the label "Persian Gulf" in the latest (2004) edition of its Atlas of the World, Iranians were understandably upset.

Iranians link the slyness of changing the name with the West's desire to pressure Iran to suspend its nuclear program, another tactic to go with the military threats, propaganda in the media and economic sanctions. They believe that the Western media in adopting the change are of their sensitivity toward their cultural heritages and historical treasures.

Some Iranian journalists wrote right after the National Geographic scandal that the hostile action of changing the name had nothing to do with the West' or the United States' policies. Rather, it was the work of the Arab states, which bribed the American media.

Some articles reveal that the managers of Google Earth had some financial arrangements with Arab political leaders to change the name in their maps.

But really, altering a historical name will never create the desired political results. It will just cause irretrievable damage to the history of science and the efforts of geographers, archaeologists and voyagers.

Together with all of the world's historical sites and places, the Persian Gulf's name must be protected for future generations.

Neglecting tradition, historical facts and records such as Herodotus' History and Ibn Battuta's Travels to serve some political purpose is a terrible way for a nation to act, especially the United States, which is known globally for its peacemaking and cultural background.
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Kourosh Ziabari

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